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Groovebox Studios

1600 Clay St
Detroit, MI 48211

Jeff Wenzel

If a door opens every time another closes, then the names for Jeff Wenzel's doors are The Sugar People and Groovebox Studios.

The Sugar People
was an indie rock band Wenzel spent a decade building up during the 2000s. The band, which called its music “Cinematic Pop,” built up its equipment stockpile that helped it pull off performances, recording and video making.

But all bands eventually end, and so did The Sugar People in 2011. The core group of three guys, including Wenzel, had a decision to make. Should they sell off the equipment they had collected over time, maybe go on a vacation with the proceeds? Or use it to leverage a new business?

Wenzel and one of the other band members choose the later, taking the equipment and starting Groovebox Studios. The Detroit-based company helps independent bands crowdsource money from their fans to make new material. Think music and videos.

"There really wasn't a support system," Wenzel says. "There isn't even one for the people who have their shit together."

Groovebox Studios
aspires to be that support system. It has all of the equipment and expertise to make the production happen. It now has the business model to make sure everyone gets paid.

The 2-year-old firm helps the bands crowd fund a few thousand dollars from their fans to produce the new material. The first $1,200 raised goes toward Groovebox Studios' expenses to make the project happen. The money raised after that goes toward the band. So far the company has worked with 200 bands and is opening other locations across the U.S.

"It just blossomed," Wenzel says. "We hit a few home runs and we have pivoted when we needed to."

Groovebox Studios works out of an 800-square-foot studio in the Russell Industrial Center on Detroit’s east side next to the Motor City’s border with Hamtramck. The Russell, what it’s commonly known as, is former factory turned bee hive of artist studios that has a reputation as launchpad for new ventures because of its cheap, no-frills space. It’s the type of dynamic place where people get what they pay for, and why Wenzel refers it as “our little cinderblock in the city,” which is exactly what Groovebox Studios needed when it started out.

"We wanted to try out everything and all things without having to worry about a huge rent bill," Wenzel says.

Groovebox Studios currently has a staff of four employees and seven independent contractors. It’s a team that is old and mature enough that, as Wenzel describes it, "knows what it's good at and what it's not good at." Which is exactly the type of team he wants to make available to other up-and-coming bands when they need expertise.

"We have a phenomenal team in place now," Wenzel says. "It's a great support system."

- Written by Jon Zemke

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